Everyone is Different. Everyone is Special. Since May 2020, the 22nd and 23rd are forty-eight hours of complex emotions, as family, friends, and fans of Hana Kimura revisit the tragic loss of her life, but gather together to work through the lingering pain by celebrating her brief, but colorful legacy. For the last three years, wrestlers from all stages of Kimura’s career descend upon Korakuen Hall for an emotionally-charged, carnival full of raucous fun.
Japanese Commentary was provided by Kengo Suzuki (play-by-play), Fumi Saito (color commentary) & Jungle Kyona (guest commentary). There was no English commentary available for this event. Housekeeping details were reviewed by Referee Keigo Yoshino (Hana Kimura Event Committee Representative), including a card change due to an unavoidable absence. Opening Remarks by Kyoko Kimura, Hana’s Mother.
“Today is the saddest day of my year, but with everyone gathered today to celebrate Hana, I feel like I can get through it.” – Kyoko Kimura
Kimura’s remarks were followed by Jungle Kyona, who led the crowd in Hana’s signature Tokyo Cyber Squad salute: “Everyone is Different. Everyone is Special! YES SIR!” to formally open the show.
If you were a fan of Hana Kimura, you really need to watch the show to understand and feel the emotions of everyone involved in this show. Kyoko always does a good job of making the show must watch, even with the myriad of streaming issues that plagued the event. All of the matches were announced ahead of time, but the order was kept secret until the day of the event. What we were treated to this year was six matches, listed below.
- Special Singles Match: Saori Anou vs. Miyuki Takase
- Battle Royal: Banana Senga, Tsutomu Ohsugi, Fuminori Abe, Mensore Oyaji, Hanako Nakamori, Chihiro Hashimoto, Hibiscus Mii & multiple mystery entrants
- Special Singles Match: Kyusei Hana Kimura (Sakura Hirota) vs. X
- Strongest ANIKI 4-Way Tag: Masao Hanabatake & X vs. Ryo Mizunami & Sonoko Kato vs. Yuko Miyamoto & Ram Kaicho vs. X & Kengo
- Main Event 1: 6-Woman Tag: ASUKA (VENY), Natsupoi & Syuri vs. X, Rina & Konami
- Main Event 2: Tag Match: Mika Iwata & Mio Momono (MARVELOUS) vs. Aja Kong & Sareee
FITE TV Streaming Issues
To be brutally honest with you, the live stream provided from Fite TV was absolutely terrible. The video was choppy while the audio came through crystal clear. There were multiple hiccups and the live stream video quality didn’t get properly sorted out until nearly halfway through the show. Fite really dropped the ball this year with the show. You would think that a memorial show would be a top priority for fixing streaming issues but no, FITE didn’t give a rats ass about fixing the show until nearly a week after streaming.
Frankly, I found the lack of attention and caring about this annual memorial show to be insulting. When nearly the entire first half of a show is unwatchable, you should be scrambling to get the issues fixed but nope. That’s enough ranting about FITE and their mishandling of this event.. I will be keeping my opinions on the matches brief as I believe every single one of you need to watch this show and appreciate the matches for yourselves.
Special Singles Match: Saori Anou vs. Miyuki Takase
Up first we have Miyuki Takase taking on Saori Anou, a continuation of a long rivalry between the two. Saori got a huge smile out of me as she entered to Babymetal’s Megitsune, one of my favorite songs. This was a great opening match for the show, as both Takase and Anou bring out the fire in one another. This match is a pure, no-nonsense wrestling match and a lot of fun to watch for fans of such things. It’s honestly amazing what the right opponent can bring out in someone and these two really put on a show for Korakuen Hall this year. Saori Anou picked up the tough, well earned victory in just under 10 minutes.
Pool Party Battle Royal: Jaguar Yokota vs Banana Senga, Tsutomu Ohsugi, Fuminori Abe, Mensore Oyaji, Hibiscus Mii, Hanako Nakamori, Chihiro Hashimoto, Super Delphin, Kaz Hayashi & Kyoko Inoue
The Hana Memorial shows have become known for having some fun and crazy battle royale matches and this year was no different. This years was pool party themed with a lot of the wrestlers wearing bathing suits and other beach wear. The match was just for goofy fun and fun it was. We had beer, squirt guns, pool floats, inflatable watermelons and even nerf guns. If you can’t appreciate the fun of this match then something is seriously wrong with you. Pinfalls abound as the Japanese battle royal is very different from the WWE or even AEW versions. After nearly 14 minutes of entertainment, Jaguar Yokota winds up the victor and receives a gift bag full of event merch as her prize.
Special Singles Match: Kyusei Hana Kimura (Sakura Hirota) vs. X
Sakura Hirota brings us yet another cosplay version of Hana Kimura for this year and it was just as funny as all of the previous years. She is so outrageous that even Kyoko loves what she does and thinks that Hana would have loved it as well. Unfortunately for Hirota, she is up against the human buzzsaw known as Minoru Suzuki. The primal fear she showed as Suzuki’s music hit was intense but funny at the same time and this match goes about as you’d expect.
For the record, Hana never did face against Suzuki one-on-one but did have a match against him in a six person tag match back in 2017. Minoru Suzuki pretty much toys with Hirota for nine minutes before she taps out to avoid certain doom, giving Suzuki the win. fter the match, Suzuki offered Hirota a handshake of sportsmanship that she turned into a big boot to the face! In a rage, Suzuki ripped apart the barricade, but the ref herded him toward the exit.
Strongest ANIKI 4-Way Tornado Tag: Ryo Mizunami & Sonoko Kato vs. Masao Hanabatake & Mayumi Ozaki, Yuko Miyamoto & Ram Kaicho, and Minoru Tanaka & Kengo
What is an ‘Aniki’? Traditionally, it is a cooler older brother-type, who tends to use more macho language, but also is a term of endearment in various social circles, including roughnecks, biker gangs, and other organizations. In the social sense, more often than not it is a reference for someone who isn’t an actual older brother to the speaker, but more of a term of respect for someone who assumes that role in a casual setting or in certain situations. It generally isn’t used in a formal setting as a means of address.
The concept of this match is to prove who is the best Aniki archetype in an intergender setting with a lot of beloved veterans who could easily fit into the title of an “aniki.” The participants are veritable who’s who of wrestling anikis minus Shotaro Ashino, who had to miss this show due to injury. He sustained a fracture in his left arm during the finals of the All Japan Pro-Wrestling Champions’ Carnival, in which he defeated T-HAWK. Mayumi Ozaki (OZ Academy) replaced Shotaro Ashino to tag with Hanabatake.
Another fun match, lots of near falls and power moments with comedy provided by Ram Kaicho and Miyamoto, who tried to use Ozaki’s A la Carte photobook to distract her. All of the teams got a chance to show what they are made of and continued the trend of the night. In the end it was Mizunami pinning Yuko Miyamoto to win the ‘title’ of Strongest Aniki.
Main Event 1: 6-Woman Tag: ASUKA (VENY), Natsupoi & Syuri vs. Tokyo Cyber Squad (Death Yama-san, Rina & Konami)
The TCS was, semi, revived for one night and if you missed how I think it could be revived fully, go check out that article! We got Hana’s best friend and tag parter, ASUKA (Veny), teaming with Natsupoi and Syuri facing Mini-Hana aka Rina, Konami and Death Yama-san who represented the Tokyo Cyber Squad of old. Konami looks like she is getting healthy again and there were a lot of fun spots in the match. Natsupoi being forced to pose with the members of TCS, with Kyona, was a nice touch. Poi, for her part, was as fun to watch as always. Blending her acrobatic style and comedy, she added a nice touch to the proceedings.
Of course, you can’t take away from anyone else. Rina held her own, Syuri was as strong as always and ASUKA absolutely stole the match like she always does. You have to love ASUKA as they always bring their A game to these events and are an absolute standout. Everyone who participates in these events loved Hana and gives their all, but ASUKA is just on another level by comparison. I say that even though she -really- messed up on a moonsault and completely missed Konami.
She even picked up the win for her team by defeating Death Yama-san. This might have been my favorite match of the night, simply because of how good each performer was in their roles. Seeing Konami and Syuri trading blows is always a good time.
Main Event 2: Tag Match: Aja Kong & Sareee vs. Mika Iwata & Mio Momono
This was another showcase of those closely linked to the Kimura family, with Momono, Iwata, and Sareee, all peers to Hana in age and experience, and the legend in Aja Kong to make the match spicier than expected. Anytime the legend Aja Kong is in a match, you can expect it to be a hard hitting affair and that was so true for this one. If you watched Sareee while in WWE, then known as Sarray, you need to watch what she can really do. Since returning to Japan, she has regained her form and confidence which is a relief to see frankly. WWE misused her badly so it’s nice to see her back to being the ass kicker that we loved.
Mika Iwata and Mio Momono were out to prove themselves and damn did they do a good job of it. Not sure why Momono really wanted a piece of the legendary Kong, but she did and she got her chances. Early on, the match was all over Korakuen Hall with the action spilling outside and introducing weapons like an umbrella. If you’re looking for an MVP for this match, it was absolutely Mika Iwata. She took some stiff shots from Aja Kong and did a lot of really good work with Sareee. Plain and simple, this match featured three of the current best women’s wrestlers in the world and one absolute legend. What more could you ask for?
The finish came when Aja Kong hit an abolutely brutal spinning back fist to Mika Iwata, one that I thought legit knocked her out or at least knocked out a tooth or two. Damn that was vicious. Anyway, it led Kong to pick up the victory for her team. Afterwards she gave an emotional and memorable set of words directed towards Hana that I think we all could relate to in the moment.
After the final match, a closing ceremony was held. The entrance gown that Hana had commissioned prior to her passing was placed on a mannequin with her pre-STARDOM pink and white gear underneath. The participants of the double main event joined Kyoko in the ring with the other show participants circled at the ringside. The ring announcer read Hana’s height and weight (and billing from the red corner) before fans in attendance threw streams of pink, yellow, and light green.
There was a moving closing video full of participants who weren’t on the show including Dynamite Kansai, CIMA, Kris Wolf, Zoe Lucas, Holidead, Toni Storm, Cheeseburger, Rocky Romero, Will Ospreay, Mandy Leon, Mercedes Moné, KAIRI (with her dog, Cheese), and IYO SKY. The video closed with Kyoko Kimura with their cat. In the lobby, bouquets of flowers for Hana were displayed as well as Hana’s costume and Mercedes Mone’s tribute costume from her match with KAIRI at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley.
I know that I didn’t talk much about the matches, but I still stand that anyone who loves Pro Wrestling should watch the show and experience it for themselves. Whether you were a fan of Hana Kimura or not, the show is must watch and a touching tribute three years going.
Just remember that “everyone is different, everyone is special” applies every single day, not just today. Until next year, “YES SIR!”